IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs (Prelims + Mains Focus)- 20th November 2017
TOPIC: General Studies 2:
- India and its International relations.
- Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
- Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.
“Quad”- The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue
The first formal talks among the members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (or the “Quad”) took place between Australia, India, Japan and the US in Manila, Philippines.
The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the East Asia Summit (EAS).
- The discussions focused on cooperation based on the members’ converging vision and values for promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
- The officials agreed that a free, open, prosperous and inclusive Indo-Pacific region serves the long-term interests of all countries in the region and of the world at large.
- Common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages impacting the region.
- Need to enhance connectivity.
The grouping’s informal origins can be traced to 2004.
In the wake of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami, Australia, India, Japan and the US launched an ad-hoc humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) mission, which allowed them to come together operationally. Since then the four navies have worked together on several occasions.
The Quad was formally initiated in 2007 at the prompting of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe.
Formal Quad meetings were not possible following strong objections from China in 2007.
Since 2015, the India-US Malabar naval exercises have included Japan and are likely to include Australia in the next iteration, thus making the military component of the Quad a reality
The term “Indo-Pacific” is used to define the stretch of water from the tropical Indian Ocean, through the equatorial seas around the Indonesian archipelago, the South China Sea, and to the western and central Pacific Ocean.
Potential for conflict in the region is high because of the absence of a robust regional peace and security architecture.
Key drivers behind formally reviving the Quad:
Several factors why the countries chose to revivify the Quad at this juncture are:
- All the Quad countries have noted in different ways that China’s rise has presented a serious challenge to a rules-based international order.
- For India, the Doklam confrontation with China and concerns over the latter’s so-called Belt Road Initiative (BRI). There is a desire to engage Washington more closely in the region.
- For Australia, and to some extent Japan, the key driver is the concern about the commitment of the Donald Trump administration to the bilateral alliance arrangements.
- For the US, the Quad offers a way to share its burden of containing China.
The Quad’s potential is likely to be limited by several internal differences.
- The three pillars of the Indo-Pacific architecture need to work in coordination-
While the Quad is a crucial pillar of the peace and security architecture in the Indo-Pacific region, it needs to be supported by at least two other pillars. The EAS serves the role of the political pillar and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) as the trade and economic pillar.
While all Quad participants are members of EAS, India is still not a member of APEC. This lacuna needs to be remedied.
- India may need to enter into formal military arrangements and cooperation, even though this might bring with it the prospect of being dragged into a war not of its making.
As NATO has shown, sometimes a democratic military alliance is essential to maintain peace.
- Washington’s indifference to the geopolitics of maritime South Asia.
It may happen that Trump’s promotion of a “free and open Indo-Pacific region” is more focused on trade, than maritime security.
- Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) is showing a new enthusiasm for naval engagement with Beijing.
With many South-East Asian states openly acknowledging China’s role in regional security and development, it seems unlikely a proposal aimed at the containment of Chinese naval power in Asia will find much support.
Britain and France must not be included:
The resumption of the quadrilateral dialogue, is a good idea but there isn’t much rationale for involving Britain and France at this stage.
- The two have islands and military facilities in the region, still they are extra-regional powers.
- The European powers are still too fixated on Russia (rather than China) as the primary security threat to be of much utility to their Asian partners.
- Moreover, the greater the number of people at the table, the narrower the agenda on which a consensus can be achieved.
Improved prospects for India:
- Facing a huge power deficit, India needs partnerships to balance China.
New Delhi is rightly concerned about –
Beijing’s use of its navy to normalize Chinese dominance of the littorals, a condition that supports Beijing’s vision of a unipolar Asia.
Many thinks that China’s maritime strategy in the Indian Ocean involves a “slow choke” of New Delhi’s geopolitical influence in its strategic backyard.
- India’s neighbours—as foreign secretary S. Jaishankar has pointed out—are bound to feel more reassured of India’s (as against a rapacious China’s) words if New Delhi has the economic, military and political backing of major powers in the region.
- The Quad has the potential to secure the region against great power conflict.
To be truly effective, the Quad will have to ensure the continued engagement and commitment of Washington to the region. Effective coordination among the four countries is required if the grouping hopes to offer smaller states in the region reasons to value the rules-based order compared to China’s competing vision.
Connecting the dots:
- The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (or the “Quad”) holds potential to establish a robust regional peace and security architecture for the Indo-Pacific region. However, the success of the grouping will depend on the cooperation among the member countries. Discuss.
Also read: Engaging big powers in South Asia
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
TOPIC:General Studies 3:
- Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
Bots: Good & Bad
What are bots?
A bot is a computer programme designed to work automatically. It is mainly used to gather information on the Internet or perform repetitive jobs. It is typically a collection of algorithms. An algorithm is simply a piece of software code that operates like a decision tree, considering multiple variables and then spitting out a decision or recommendation.
Some popular examples of bots are Apple’s Siri, the Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana.
Are they good or bad?
Like for every technology, there are two sides to bots as well.
Search engine bots, commercial crawlers, feed fetchers and monitoring bots all fall in the classification of good bots. These are the tools that enable effective search engine optimization, digital marketing, website health reporting, mobile content etc.
Beneficial uses of a bot are:
- It gathers information. Bots in such guises are called web crawlers.
- Automatic interaction using instant messaging, instant relay chat or other web interfaces.
- Dynamic interaction with websites.
- Artificial intelligence-based bots are increasingly being used by organisations and entities to provide customer care, and sales and marketing services.
- Some banks have also introduced AI-based chatbots that are capable of interacting with users and answering information-related queries.
Impersonators, spammers, scrapers and hacker tools are the bad bots. A malicious bot is a self-propagating malware that infects its host and connects back to a central server(s).
The bad side of bots:
- Malicious bots can gather passwords, log keystrokes, obtain financial information, relay spam, and exploit back doors opened by viruses and worms, among other things.
- They maliciously intend to scrap data, post comments redirecting to other websites or even find vulnerabilities to exploit them.
- Bots have also come under scrutiny in relation to automated accounts on Twitter and Facebook.
- Beyond the dangerousness of these bots, they also consume resources, like bandwidth and web servers, polluting the reactiveness of the website used by legitimate users concurrently.
How can one know if the computer is infected?
Symptoms such as a slow Internet or crashing of computer for no apparent reason, pop-up windows and advertisements appearing even when a web browser is not being used, friends and family receiving mails you did not send, or a fan going into “overdrive” when the device is idle may mean that the system is infected.
Precautions and remedies:
- It is important to have a good anti-malware software.
- All software should be updated and system updates should not be ignored.
Algorithms have brought efficiency, craftiness, and speed to nearly everything. But as with most breakthrough innovations, they have raise grave issues. Given the bots are almost everywhere, the next step must be to tackle the shortcomings.
Connecting the dots:
- What do you mean by the word ‘bots’. What is the difference between good and bad bots. Discuss its applications.
The India State-level Disease Burden Initiative
Part of: Main GS Paper II – Social issue, Welfare and Health
Key PT pointers:
- The health study was conducted jointly by the Indian Council of Medical Research, Public Health Foundation of India and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
- It comprehensively identified the disease burden of the country.
It revealed the extent of disease burden, which if unaddressed on a war footing could hurt the country’s enormous growth potential.
- Between 1990 and 2016 the life expectancy improved significantly.
- The disease burden has undergone a structural shift: six out of 10 Indians now die due to non-communicable diseases (like a heart attack).
- Child and maternal malnutrition continue to cause premature deaths (an estimated six million children die before they are five years old).
- The study captures the disease burden expressed as the number of years lost due to ill-health, disability or early death—it was nine-fold for diarrhoeal diseases and tuberculosis, and seven-fold for lower respiratory infections in 2016.
- The inequalities in the disease burden suggest that regional growth disparities will only widen.
The health atlas should be used by policy planners in order to develop customized curative solutions, instead of universalizing the strategy.
Article link: Click here
World Economic Outlook report of IMF
Part of: Main GS Paper III – Indian Economy and issues relating to planning, growth, development, investment.
Key PT pointers:
- The report published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranks over 200 countries in terms of per capita GDP based on purchasing power parity (PPP)
- India has moved up one position to 126th in terms of per capita GDP of countries while Qatar remains the world’s richest on this parameter, as per IMF data.
- Among BRICS countries, India has the lowest per capita GDP.
- Singapore, Brunei, Ireland and Norway are top five countries.
What is PPP?
Purchasing power parity (PPP) between two countries is the rate at which the currency of one country needs to be converted into that of a second country to ensure that a given amount of the first country’s currency will purchase the same volume of goods and services in the second country as it does in the first.
Article link: Click here
A new surrender policy for militants in J&K
Part of: Main GS Paper III – Internal Security
- A fresh surrender policy has been framed by the government, the Army and the J&K Police.
- The government has taken inputs from all security agencies to frame the fresh policy
- They said local militants in Jammu and Kashmir could use the helpline if they want to come back.
- Earlier, the surrender policy was limited to those who crossed the Line of Control into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in the early 1990s and were stuck there.
- The new surrender policy is considering provision of “passports and jobs to any local youth who gives up the gun” and “support for his full assimilation into society.”
Article link: Click here
More than just a counting game
Pacific Ocean’s 11
Crime and callousness
The roots of the crisis in the seed industry